Mechanics lien question


#1

Can anyone give me advice on mechanics’ liens?

We stopped payment on our check to the contractor who did our roof and soffit fascia because he never completed some things (in another couple of threads).

We had a holdback agreement so that he would come back and finish a punchlist of items and we agreed on a date by which he would complete them or else lose a certain amount of money we witheld, assuming that the amount was enough to cover those issues…he had asserted through the whole thing that he would definately be back…so we went with HIS number for holdback, $1,000…he kept saying how that was more than enough to cover what was left but that he would definately be back…and asked for the balance of the payment due. So we gave him a check for $3,000 figuring he was a man of his word. Well, the date came and went and he never even called. The agreement had a 15 day timeframe.

We waited an additional few days and then put the stop payment on it as he hadnt yet cashed our check. We sent a registered letter to him saying that we did so and why and that he needed to contact us.

Lo and behold he found our number and called the day he got the “registered letter reciept” , asking us what it was about…then another call the next day once he found out what it was about…

We just talked to him yesterday evening and we advised him that we intended on getting several estimates from other roofers on fixing what he never finished and then also to have them check his other work because we now had concerns that the $1,000 he suggested wouldnt be enough to cover the costs for repairs/redo…we also told him that we wanted to find out what value the 3 year warranty he sold us was, since we now have no trust in this guy to stand behind it.

We also said we were going to have the building inspector come out and look since he never pulled the permits etc.

Well, all he did was ask “Are you sure you want to do that? Has your attorney said he had faith he could win your case if you pursue it this way?” and got angry…then said he was going to file a mechanics lien withe PA State Attorny General and hung up on us.

So now what?

This guy never pulled permits per the contract, took 4 weeks+ to finish a job that he said would take 1.5-2 weeks, jerked us along left and right, asked for cash payment because he was going through a divorce, etc etc etc etc.

I know this forum is more or less meant for roofers to discuss roofer business and stuff, but hoping that I can get some help from the experts here on how we can defend ourselves against this guy.

This has turned from what should be a exciting time for us (getting our home fixed up) to a headache.

I now see all the red flags that I should have seen all along with this guy. But they do say that hindsight is 20/20.

Thanks in advance for any help.


#2

I will just make it short and sweet for you.

I am speaking of Illinois Law, but you WILL need to check with your attorney to find out for sure.

If the job done required a “Licensed” Contractor or if the job “Required” a permit, he may be SOL.

Upon Lien Notification, challenge the veracity of the merits of the Lien and compel him to bring it to court within 30 days.

If your written agreement was for a $ 1,000.00 hold back, you should have stuck to your agreement though. That was an agreement and amount that you decided would be fair, prior to thinking it may cost more.

Now, for you to prove that more than $ 1,000 in necessary to perform the corrective measures, you must hire and pay a contractor the amount they charge. Proof is more accurate authoritative when an actual dollar amount has been spent for the remediation. Although, written estimates will still be considered, they do not hold as much weight as the performance and payment for the actions. An estimate can be very subjective and biased for each party involved.

You should advise the contractor of the penalties for filing an inaccurate Mechanics Lien and the potential penalties he could receive fro the judiciary system.

Well, so much for being short, huh?

Ed


#3

Thanks Ed…It was alot shorter than most of MY posts…LOL

The holdback agreement amount was an amount that he insisted would be more than adequate to complete the punchlist…and the assumption was that he would be returning, per his promise, to come back and do the work…which meant that the warranty would also be in full effect.

His failure to even call to let us know he was blowing us off is what made us assert that the warranty would now be worthless (and it has to carry some value, doesnt it?) He is the one who insisted on the the $1,000 number…not being roofers ourselves, we took his word for that…and his failure to come back made us very uncertain that it was a realistic number…plus, NOTHING in thecontract we signed or the agreement we signed said that the holdback agreementreleased him from completing the job…it only said that he would forfeit $1,000 for not completing the work by a said date…which came and went.

Dont forget that at this point only HE has told me that the job was done properly…again, his word is worth spit now.

In our minds, the fact that he pulled no permits, has not yet completed the job and the fact that he has now threatened to sue US with the lien seems to say that he broke the original contract, doesnt it?

What does a typica “leaky roof” service call cost to fix? What about a leaky skylight? Failed gutter or aluminum? These are all potential costs I will have to worry about for the next three years that SHOULD have been covered.


#4

Depending on the area and the need for money coming in and the quality of the technician diagnosing and finding a solution for a problem the average from others can be as little as $ 75.00 for the service call and then add an hourly rate from there on.

I start out higher than that, but will only do the service calls if they are pre-paid and that is due to my lengthy and diverse background.

I think you should contact various companies that you now feel that you can trust and provide them your list of deficiencies, plus any other areas that they come up with that jive with your intuition and authorize the projects remediation to be done to your satisfaction.

This will provide you with an actual out of pocket dollar amount that you can justify seeking back in return, regardless of the amount that will be determined.

Remember, if your states laws are like ours, you can reveal that Ace In The Hole as leverage to intimidate the contractor from illegally filing a Lien on your property, which may damage your credit ratings and potential home value.

For these discussions, you really need to get the advice of a local attorney familiar with Lien Laws and related Contractual Breach matters.

Remember, going to court usually just costs everyone money out of pocket, unless one side wins 100% hands down, which is always a big gamble, because you, nor the contractor know how a different human being will make their decision.

Ed


#5

I feel that your action was a valiant effort to get this guys attention! It worked…he has responded…The problem now is that instead of him trying to correct,and finish the job…he gave up,and is now on the defensive…I would never have given him the last payment in the first place! You have valid points he. I just looked at a roof that was done by a guy 3 yrs ago…It was a mess! The shingles were falling off,and most of it was caused by the roofer failing to RE-NAIL the roof deck.The sheets a popping off all over the place,with nails pushing through the new shingles…This is a 12/12 pitch,so it is not too easy to just go up and try to replace the missing shingles…It is leaking in spots where shingles are still in tact… The reality is that he needs to have the roof removed,sheets RE-NAILED,new paper and shingles installed properly,and new ridgevent…I was the 3rd contractor to come to this conclusion…1st was priced at 8000.00,2nd was Home Depot at 12,000.00 and I was low bidder,at 450.00 per sq. These are the possible problems when a job is done by a part time contractor…


#6

I guess there is no way to know if he renailed the sheets now that the roof is on…

That is definately something I didnt know to look for at the time.


#7

What i dont get is why the check took this long to cash? Normally these types of guys are at the bank waiting that day to cash it. Here is my advise:

  1. Get 5 estimates on the home stating you just moved in and you want the roof checked out for any problems.
    Telling them its for a lawsuit will not be to your benifit. ALso get the city building inspector out there.

  2. Certify a letter containing all problems to him from your lawyer. Only from a lawyer at this point.
    Have them work this out for you.

  3. If they are supposed to be licesend in your area see if he is. If not it will work in your favor.

  4. You both broke the contracts layed out. You the first agreeing to pay for the roof and the second by him not fixing the items.

This is going to cost you some money to fight. A lein will ruin your credit rating along with making your home unable to refinance or sell. Get as much info against him as you can. If the roof is a totla loss then the courts will be ok with you. If there is only a few things wrong you might be paying him some interest. Put the money in escrow to cover your behind and let this contractor know of it.

But why did he wait this long to cash the check is my question.


#8

I feel funny about telling any new roofers that “we just moved in” because I feel that wouldbe sort of dishonest on my part…though I understand what you mean…it may be tough to have any roofer wantt o get involved in this sort of thing.

When we were first starting our relationship, this guy had asked to be paid in cash “if at all possible” and related to me that he was going through some issues with his wife…a divorce…and he was talking about how muchchild support he had to pay based on his earnings…our guess is that he didnt want her attorney to find out about his side work (he works full time for a local large construction firm, which he also misrepresented to me…we wanted a fulltime ROOFER…not a guy contracting out on the side)…I think he was trying to figure out how to cash it without it showing up somewhere.

When we last talked he said he didnt cash the check yet because he “wanted to show you could trust me”…and then in the same breath said he didnt call us because he “didn;t know what to say”…Uh, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Or perhaps he was just a tax dodger…I don’t know.

I know it would be up to the court to decide…but I feel like he broke the original contract to start with when he failed to pull the necessary permits. as per the contract. He and his crew also took of a total of 5 days or so for no reason…The contract clearly states “job will be cpmpleted continuously , weather permitting.” The days they took off were perfect weather-wise. And the third way he broke thecontract was by asking me for extra money for “extra work” without anything being in writing, and only after the fact. He did say that we ddint have to pay him that if we didnt think it was"fair", but seeing as our job wasn’t yet done, what could we do but pay him in the hopes we werent getting ripped off?

He broke the second \contract when he failed to even contact us in the 15 days we agreed on.

We stopped the check some 17 days AFTER we agreed to pay him because quite frankly at that point he had ruined his credibility with us and since it was still possible to do so, we did. Before he failed the second agreement, we never intended to not have him back to finish the job…we very much wanted the job done and over with… until AFTER he failed to contact us at all in regards to the second agreement. His failing to in any way contact us to even say he wouldn’t be coming back , to me, shows his character…or lack of it I guess. At this point we dont want him back on our roof again because he could very well go up there and do a half-assed job at the things that need fixed or worse yet do something to cause us future grief…like I said, no trust at all now.

All I know at this point is that he has $9,000 of our money and we have this headache to deal with.


#9

I hate to say it but if you called us we wouldn’t fix anything. The new contractor would be taking on someone else headaches. Its a little overboard on the CYA principal. But your roof is damaged goods.


#10

When you say “someone else’s headaches”, what exactly do you mean?

In our mind, the roof is either right or it isnt…the metal work is either right or it isnt…

I am not looking to have another company stand behind the work this guy did…just to correct what he did wrong…


#11

ALot of companies will want to start from stratch if its messed up like you say it is. No one wants to warranty someone elses mistakes. So basically a new roof.


#12

By someone else’s headache’s I mean:

There seems to be more to the story. For a ‘few hours’ he doesn’t want $1000. There must be more then then you think. If you called, we would come out and take a look. But we have a our season pretty full at the moment.

Two weeks ago we looked at a job. Home was reroofed over the winter. Someone thought they knew how to do it. Job looks horrible. We gave a price of $4,000 to fix, or $10,000 to start from scratch.

People will come out to give you an estimate. They will tell you everything that is wrong. They will be willing to make contact with you. The more people who know their name, the better off they will be.

Let us know what they say. I am curious as to what someone with a ‘roofing eye’ will see after walking your property.


#13

[quote=“RooferR”]By someone else’s headache’s I mean:

There seems to be more to the story. For a ‘few hours’ he doesn’t want $1000. There must be more then then you think. If you called, we would come out and take a look. But we have a our season pretty full at the moment.

Two weeks ago we looked at a job. Home was reroofed over the winter. Someone thought they knew how to do it. Job looks horrible. We gave a price of $4,000 to fix, or $10,000 to start from scratch.

People will come out to give you an estimate. They will tell you everything that is wrong. They will be willing to make contact with you. The more people who know their name, the better off they will be.

Let us know what they say. I am curious as to what someone with a ‘roofing eye’ will see after walking your property.[/quote]

Well, I am hoping you are right and that they will come out. I do not want to lie about the situation…I do wantt o get the work fixed and that isnt the way to start off any relationship…but I can also understand why folks would be shy to come out and get involved…

LOL Interested in making a long distance trek to my house near Pgh? (Hey, I had to at least try…).

In the back of my mind I worry that we are being too picky…it just seems like there are som many issues…and that is just what we can see/recognize…what are we MISSING, that we can not recognize as an issue?

For instance, I found out that they roofed over a small section of rot in my sheathing…about a 8-10" area, with asmall hole about the size of a half dollar or so…they ice/water shielded over it saying that it was small anough to not be an issue…it is located in an area over the soffit…at the time I believed them…but now, I worry. SO, what else did they cover up, ya know?

What a nightmare.


#14

Shandango…Call me if you would like to get this looked at by a Pro…and serious about going to any lengths to resolve it…(570)872-5505 I am in Poconos,and it is quiet here,so if you want I can take a trip down for you…It would not be the 1st time I have seen a new roof disaster…in my area I have ripped off over 20 roofs that were less than 5 yrs old for reasons such as you described…I am also a pro,when it comes to aluminum work…


#15

Hi all

Just posting to update my situation. Have been ill, so I haven’t been online much.

Its tough getting roofers to come out…I wont lie to them on the phone when they ask how old the roof is…and that scares a lot off I guess.

Had one roofer so far come out and take a look…big company, listed as master roofers, and master installers for alcoa.

Basically, this company says the roof looks like a C+ to a B if he were grading it but he admitted he cant see under the roof…he gave me a quote to fix the ridge vent and redo some of the valley and flashing where he says my leaks are coming from.

The metal work, he gave basically a failing grade, which I knew before he gave that to me. He wont touch it as far as repairing it, since there are so many issues…he is going to quote me for a re-do of all the metalwork. He advised that the “roofer” who did my job should have done the detail work first and THEN the roof…he pointed out many reasons why, including visible nails/rivets etc…my front gutter is now sagging in the middle and each day I find some new place where the metal work is doing something it shouldnt.

Getting someone out here seems to be tough.

Basically they know that a clown did the work and they wont just repair anything since that puts them on the hook for warranty stuff (and I agree…).

Others won’t get involved because they see the writing on the wall…this will probably end up in court.

So, now I am stuck for now with a crappy looking job PLUS the worry of this jerk leining my house and the hassle that will come with that.

I dont know how this guy sleeps at night.

In any event, I have another roofer coming out in a week’s time…seems like a pretty busy season around here for some roofers…


#16

Take him to Small Claims Court before he takes that action, but I doubt that he would.

Save all written correspondence and all of your written notes from phone calls.

Ed


#17

Also make sure it is certified mail.


#18

For court, at least in my area, you need to Serve them with a summons.

A Process Server does that, but I think you can do it in person or by Certified mail, but be sure to ask at your local court house for sure.

Ed